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Queensland Reds pick strong side to face Lions

06 June 2013

  •  Quade Cooper lines up against Warren Gatland's tourists in Brisbane
  • "Our approach was always going to be to field as strong a line-up as possible" –  Ewen McKenzie 
Quade Cooper

Photo: Getty Images

The British and Irish Lions are set to face the toughest test of their tour at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Saturday after the Reds named a strong 23-man squad.

The Lions have so far had few issues in brushing aside the Barbarians and an under-strength Western Force in their opening two matches.

However, the Reds are determined to pose more problems after naming a line-up that boasts a total of 127 Australia caps – including a precocious midfield trio of Quade Cooper, Anthony Faingaa and Ben Tapuai.

The Reds are without seven members of the current Wallabies squad, though, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Liam Gill, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Rob Simmons and James Slipper all unavailable.

"Playing against the British and Irish Lions is a once in a career type opportunity, so to be running out in front of a sold-out Suncorp Stadium crowd on Saturday night will be an experience these 23 players will never forget," Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie said.

"Our approach was always going to be to field as strong a line-up as possible and I've got every confidence in the group we've chosen to go out and compete against a very talented Lions squad."

Five of the Reds squad – James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Eddie Quirk, Jake Schatz and Cooper – have appeared in every Super 15 game this season, while there are just two debutants on the bench in Jono Owen and Sam Denny.

The Lions have won their last four tour games in Queensland (19-15 v Queensland and 30-6 v Queensland B in 1989 and 42-8 v Queensland and 83-6 v Queensland President's XV in 2001).

However, the Reds were the last Australian provincial team to beat the Lions with a famous 15-11 victory back in 1971. "We've spoken as a group about the significance of these opportunities and there isn't a player out there who wouldn't want to replicate the heroics of the 1971 Queensland side," McKenzie added.

"History suggests that's a mammoth challenge, but we'll go out there on Saturday with plenty of good intentions and with a commitment to giving a strong account of ourselves across the entire 80 minutes."

Queensland Reds side to face the British and Irish Lions on Saturday, June 8 (kick-off 10:30am BST): 15. Ben Lucas, 14. Rod Davies, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Anthony Faingaa, 11. Luke Morahan, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Nick Frisby, 1. Ben Daley, 2. James Hanson, 3. Greg Holmes, 4. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 5. Ed O'Donoghue, 6. Eddie Quirk, 7. Beau Robinson, 8. Jake Schatz.

Replacements: 16. Albert Anae, 17. Sam Denny, 18. Jono Owen, 19. Radike Samo, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. Jono Lance, 22. Mike Harris, 23. Dom Shipperley.